5% of Korean Adoptees Were Successful in Meeting Their Birth Parents

Here is a good article in the Joong Ang Ilbo about the difficulties Korean adoptees are having tracking down their birth parents in South Korea:

Left: Lida Bouts returned to Korea in February 2016 as an exchange student at Sungkyunkwan University, 22 years after she was adopted by a Dutch couple. Her search for her family failed as there was no response to letters sent by her adoption agency to her birth parents. Middle left: Bouts’ adoption document drawn up in 1993. Middle right: Megan Green as a 2-year-old before an adoption that sent her to the U.S. state of Nebraska in 1986. Right: Green’s adoption document drawn up in 1986. [LIDA BOUTS, MEGAN GREEN]

Korea Adoptions Services collects all family search requests from private adoption agencies. It reports that in 2016, there were 1,940 requests from Korean adoptees trying to find their birth parents. Only 102 of them, or 5 percent, ended up meeting their biological parents. The year before, the figure was 91 out of 2,012 requests, or 4.5 percent.

And such reunions are getting harder with time. Parents who gave their babies up after the Korean War were poor and had no choice – and were more likely to agree to meet them two or three decades later.

But adoptions processed in the 1980s and later often involved single mothers, who were afraid of the social stigma attached to unwed mothers. “They have probably found someone to marry after sending children away for adoption, and now have a family,” said Kim. “They are much more reluctant to be reunited.”

In 2016, 880 children were put up for adoption both domestically and internationally. Of the total, 808, or 91.8 percent, were born to unmarried couples.

“While it is important for an adoptee to trace his or her family roots, it is equally important for parents to keep their privacy,” said an official at the adoption bureau at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

“We have many single mothers in the country, and a large number of birth parents who wish to hide their adoption records. Many have moved on and have families on their own,” the official continued.

Bouts is frustrated because she has a lot of information about her birth family from the time of her adoption, but can’t do anything with it. “I know full names of everyone, birth dates and even the region they lived in,” she said. “I’m not angry at my birth parents for anything. I can even accept that my parents wouldn’t want to know or meet me. I would just really want to meet my sister.”

Bouts’ adoption document mentions a sister seven years older than her.

“I think it would make me more complete if I would meet them,” she said. “I would like to tell them that they made the right choice and that I’m living a very happy and blessed life.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

I recommend reading the rest at the link.

Korean Adoptee Deported From the US Finds Success With Mexican Restaurant In Seoul

The Joong Ang Ilbo has a pretty interesting story about a Korean-American who was deported from the US after a number of gang and drug related arrests.  He turned his life around in Korea by opening a Mexican restaurant where he cooks food that his grandmother from his third foster family taught him how to cook:

Kim and his wife, Kendra Jeong, co-run El Pino 323 in Mapo District, western Seoul, a Mexican restaurant. El Pino is the name of a pine tree near his grandmother’s house; 323 is the area code of East L.A. [PARK SANG-MOON]

June 18, 2002 was a momentous day for Korea. In a World Cup match held in Daejeon, the national football team defeated Italy 2 to 1, propelling it into the quarterfinals for the first time ever.

It was a momentous day for Kim Dong-hwa too – the worst in a life of continuous lows. Kim and his sister had been abandoned by their Korean mother in infancy. As small children, they were flown from Korea to the U.S. to live with a new mother and father. The adoption didn’t take. The pair bounced around, were physically and emotionally abused. Kim ended up running with a gang in East Los Angeles. In his 20s, he was convicted of gang related crimes.

Kim was expelled from the U.S. and sent to a native land he knew nothing about. He landed on the day of Korea’s victory over Italy.

Kim recalls his first glimpses of Seoul driving in from Incheon International Airport. “It was a sea of red,” he says. The national team’s uniforms were red and fans wore red to support them and celebrate.

“It was chaos here. I thought my mind was going to blow up.

“I thought I was in North Korea.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

I recommend reading the rest at the link because it is a great story to read about.  Kim definitely did find a good nitch to open a restaurant for because Seoul has long been lacking in quality Mexican restaurants.

Mixed Race Children of US Military Servicemembers Faced Hard Lives In South Korea

Below is a really good read in today’s Korea Herald that I recommend reading in full.  It is about the history of mixed raced children in South Korea fathered by US military servicemembers.  These mixed race kids definitely had a hard life growing up in South Korea.  Of particular interest is the role that Korean brokers played in trafficking women into the sex industry.  It makes me wonder if these were the same brokers who trafficked women to Japanese soldiers during the Japanese colonial period?:

Jang Yeon-hee is searching for her American soldier father, who left Korea while her mother was pregnant with her in the 1960s. (Claire Lee/The Korea Herald)

Jang is one of some 40,000 mixed-race Koreans born in South Korea from 1955-1969, many of whom were born to American soldiers who were temporarily stationed here. Many of the Korean women who gave birth to such mixed-race children were those who were trafficked by Korean brokers to work as prostitutes for the U.S. military.

Many fathers simply went back to the U.S. and never returned. Mothers relinquished their children, as many of them had no financial means to raise them, while suffering from severe social stigmatization for being sex workers. Most of the children were adopted into American families. For those who remained in Korea, like Jang, life was filled with a sense of alienation, racist attacks and longing for her birth parent.  (………)

To this day, Kang doesn’t know if her father died that day or simply decided to leave her mother for good. After her father went missing, Kang’s mother had a number of live-in relationships with American soldiers, who supported her financially.

Her mother soon started working as a dancer for the U.S. military, moving from one base to another. Kang lived in almost every Korean city that had active U.S. military bases, including Dongducheon, Osan, Paju, Pyeongtaek and Uijeongbu. During these years, Kang witnessed many teenage daughters of sex workers being trafficked or forced to work as prostitutes by their mothers’ pimps and brokers.

“Those brokers should still be tracked down now and jailed. … It’s not too late,” she said.  [Korea Herald]

You can read the rest at the link.

Separated Korean Sisters Find Each Other After Working at Same Florida Hospital

This is a pretty amazing coincidence that these two separated sisters were able to find each other after meeting at the same Florida hospital they both were working at:

Two Korean women who were separately adopted by American families when they were children miraculously reunited as they happened to work on the same floor of an American hospital, The Herald Tribune reported Saturday.

Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O’Brien, who started working at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Florida, earlier this year, have discovered through DNA tests that they are blood-related sisters.  [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link.

Korean-American Adoptee Needs Help Locating His Sister

Via a reader tip comes this blog posting from a Korean-American adoptee who was born in Korea and abandoned by his mother on the streets of Busan before being sent to an orphanage.  He was adopted by an American family, but now needs help locating his sister:

I have tried before to locate my sister. I have failed. Part of me wants to never try again. A lot of me hates that part of me. I will try again because there is always a chance she might see this. One can hope.

My name is Jason Chandler Cushman and I was born in Pusan, South Korea in 1981. I have a sister who is a few years older me. I believe she is probably 37 now and her name was Ahn Jung Hee, my birth mother’s name is Kim Ie Soo. Our mother left us on a street when we were young. I was 2 years old and my sister was 5 I believe. We were taken to an orphanage and my mother later returned for only my sister. That was the last time I saw her. I found this out when I returned to Korea in 2000 during a Holt International Motherland tour. I was 18 years old at the time.

In 2002 I pulled a prodigal son and asked my father for the rest of my college tuition so that I could return to Korea to find the rest of the answers from my 2000 trip. I was determined to not return until I found them. I did not find my family, but I found an answer. A simple one from my birth mother. “Stop trying to see us and do not try to find your sister. She is still with me.” My sister was probably 23 at the time.

I am now 34 years old and have long since given up most hope of seeing them. But then I began this blog in 2013 and created a realistic way of reaching them. If they care to be found and if anyone cares to share my story so that my sister might see it. My blog has been viewed over 300,000 times from South Korea alone. I pray that maybe one of those people can share my story in such a manner that it might be seen by the one I seek. [An Opinionated Man]

You can read more at the link to include additional photos in an effort to help contact his sister.